Essential Things To Know Before You Travel To Eastern Europe

Casa Poporului – What to do in Bucharest Romania

When traveling to East Europe, there are a few things you should be reminded about. One of them is to always carry cash with you. If you can, make sure to separate your cash and credit cards. It is recommended to put them in different areas such as your pocket or wallet. 

Never put them all in one place as some of the major tourist spots in Europe are notorious for pickpockets. 

It is also essential for the diversity of the culture in various parts of Eastern Europe. Take time to study the culture of each and adjust accordingly. Do not assume that they all have the same culture and beliefs simply because they belong to the same part of Europe. 

Things to Remember When You Travel to Eastern Europe

Are you ready? Let’s talk about what you need to know when you travel to East Europe – the mysterious yet stunning part of this continent.

Best time to go to Eastern Europe

If you want to avoid the crowd, the shoulder season is the best time to go to East Europe. This is from May to September. It is also practical because rates are cheaper on accommodation and flights. The best part is that you can also expect milder weather – not too cold or too hot. 

  • When is the summer: June to August
  • When is the winter season: December to February

Visa

Most of Eastern Europe can be accessed without a visa, especially for North Americans, Latin Americans, European Citizens, and countries in Oceania. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months. This should be effective until the time of your arrival to the specific Eastern European country. 

For tourists that are non-EU citizens, you will have to apply for ETIAS starting 2021, which works like eTA or travel authority permits like the ones in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

For EU travelers, you can use your national identity card to travel within Eastern Europe and other parts of the EU. The visa-free entry is valid for stays of no more than 90 days. 

Currency

In general, most countries use Euros (€) but not all of them. In some tourist destinations, you can pay with major currencies like US Dollars and GBP, while card payments are also widely accepted. Regardless, it’s best to carry cash with you. Here are the currencies used in Eastern Europe:

  • Bulgaria – Bulgarian lev, лв, BGN
  • Czech Republic – Czech koruna, Kč, CZK
  • Estonia – Euro, €
  • Hungary – Hungarian forint, Ft, HUF
  • Latvia – Euro, €
  • Lithuania – Euro, €
  • Poland – Polish zloty, zł, PLN
  • Romania – Romanian Leu, lei, RON
  • Serbia – Serbian dinar, RSD or РСД (unofficial: din. or дин), RSD
  • Slovakia – Euro, € 

Average Cost per Person Daily

East Europe is the best place to spend 3-weeks in Europe on a budget due to its flexibility. When you travel to Eastern Europe, the budget for your travel will depend on which country you visit. Some countries are cheap, while others can be costly. You can mix up affordable destinations and expensive ones. For example, stay in hostels in Krakow then the money you save can be used to book a place for skiing in Zakopane.

But when in doubt, add a 10% tip to your bill at a restaurant. Make sure to tip hotel porters, too. A good idea is to tip at fine dining restaurants, but it isn’t expected in food stalls or rural locations. 

  • On the budget: $35
  • On the mid-range: $65-$120
  • On luxury: $200 and up
  • The cheapest country in Eastern Europe: Romania
  • The most expensive country in East Europe: Estonia

Languages when you Travel to Eastern Europe

Europe is one of the most diverse continents in the world in terms of culture and language. While for Eastern Europe, since Russia colonized many countries here or was part of the USSR, most of the languages are stemmed out of the Russian language, however, they are not the same. All countries in Eastern Europe have their languages.

Breaking the language barrier

Europe is composed of 44 countries, and most have their language. The languages in the countries in East Europe are mostly Romance and Slavic languages.

Regardless, speaking with young people should not be a problem while many locals who work at the top tourist destinations will be easy to communicate with.

In addition, downloading an offline translator along with some other recommended travel apps on your phone will be a good idea, or bringing a phrasebook if you prefer that.

If you stay on the tourist trail, you shouldn’t have a problem finding locals who can speak English, especially young people. Your hotel reception can also speak to someone on your behalf if you need help translating, while most tours are guided by English-speaking guides.

When visiting places like this with reliable internet, I always just download a translator app on my phone, making sure to download the language of the places I’m going to; in case I run out of mobile data, I can still use the app.

If you are going for three weeks in Eastern Europe, bringing a phrasebook might not be too smart as you will end up having to bring a couple with you. 

What To Pack

It can be somehow challenging when you pack your things before heading to Eastern Europe. But in general, you can determine the items you need to pack based on the time of year you visit. 

When visiting in the summer months, opt for light pieces of clothing such as a scarf or a windbreaker. Make sure you get enough protection from the sun, too. If you visit during winter, choose to pack items that can be layered and will keep you warm. 

Getting Around

One of the best things about traveling in Eastern Europe or Europe, in general, is how easy and remarkably cheap it is to travel around with plenty of options for transportation.

Europe has the best railway system and even buses in the world. Most of the rail lines are connected throughout the continent. If that’s not an option, buses are also not a shabby option.

Many travelers from North America, Latin America, Africa, and even Asia are surprised by how cheap the flight tickets are, either domestic flights or international flights within Europe.

If you like to be in charge, you can also rent a car and drive around for as cheap as $30 per day.

Dos and Don’ts

Traveling in Eastern Europe shouldn’t be hard or more complicated than traveling in Asia. If anything, it should be easier. However, there are things you should remember to make sure that you will have an enjoyable holiday without being disrespectful to the locals or the place you will be visiting.

This section will discuss the dos and don’ts of exploring Eastern Europe.

Dos:

  • Always ask for the permission of someone if you are taking a photo of the locals, if you are traveling on tour, you can ask your tour guide if it’s okay or ask her/him to ask for photo op permission
  • Pack a scarf/long-sleeve top, shirts/long trousers, and a skirt. When you visit religious and sacred places, one of the main rules is to dress modestly. It’s essential to cover your chest area, shoulders, and down to below the knees
  • Observe traffic regulations. Many places in Europe follow the pedestrian light strictly and don’t get in trouble for being too cool to wait for the green man

Don’ts:

  • Never take photos of children even if their parents say it’s okay – minors can’t consent for themselves.
  • Don’t expect the locals to speak your language for your convenience; you are the visitor, and you should be the person to adjust to their convenience.
  • Drink on the street or in public places.

The bottom line here is: be respectful and don’t feel and act entitled just because you are bringing business to this part of the world.

What Not to Miss in Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe is home to many beautiful places to see, food to eat, and traditions that are still alive today. 

A few decades ago, Eastern Europe wasn’t even on anyone’s radar. But today, things have changed as many Eastern European destinations are causing a lot of buzz within the tourism industry. When you explore these recommended destinations, you can expect the same allure.

Just like any other destination spot, it offers a distinct culture, history, and gastronomy that no other popular European destination can offer. Furthermore, there are plenty of hidden gems and surprises that await you.

From Bulgaria’s stunning nature to Latvia’s hidden gems; here are the places, food, drinks, and festivals that I recommend you not to miss when you travel to Eastern Europe. Moreover, you can check out these 3 different itineraries for 3-weeks in East Europe.

Bulgaria

  • Places: Sofia, Rila Monastery, Burgas, Pomorie, Sozopol, Veliko Tarnovo, Varna
  • Food: Banitsa, Tarator, Meshana Skara, Shopska Salata, Shkembe, Kiselo Mlyako, Moussaka
  • Drinks: Rakia, Ayran, Wine Turkish-Style Coffee, Boza, Mastika, Menta, Elderberry Juice, Etar

Czechia (Czech Republic)

  • Places: Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Castle Karlstejn, Brno, Ostrava, Karlovy Vary, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge
  • Food: Palačinky, Trdelník, Vepřo-knedlo-zelo, Chlebíčky, Guláš, Smažený Sýr, Knedlíky, Grilované Klobásy. Czech food is delicious!
  • Drinks: Czech Beer, Becherovka, Slivovice, Kofola, Malinovka – Czech Republic is also known for its best nightlife across Europe

Estonia

  • Places: Tallinn, Parnu, Otepaa, Soomaa National Park, Saaremaa Island, Narva, Matsalu National Park, Hiiumaa Island, Tartu
  • Food: Kvass, Sprats, Mulgipuder, Kama, Aspic, Sauerkraut, Vastlakukkel
  • Drinks: Root Beer, Vana Tallinn, Kali, Estonian Beer, Vodka, Kiiu Torn

Hungary

  • Places: Lake Balaton, Budapest, Tokaj, Pécs, Hollókő, Eger Castle, Caves of Lillafüred, Szentendre, Hortobagy National Park, Eszterháza, Visegrád Royal Palace
  • Food: Gulyás, Halászlé, Lángos, Főzelék, Somlói Galuska, Pörkölt and Paprikás, Dobos Torte, Töltött Káposzta, Kürtös Kalács
  • Drinks: Beer, Wine, Pálinka, Unicum, Fröccs

Latvia

  • Places: House of the Black Heads, Jauniela, Naval Port Prison (Karosta Prison), Riga, Ligatne Bunker, Old Sigulda Castle, Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk, Bauska Castle, Aerodium, Turaida Museum-Reserve
  • Food: Beetroot Soup, Speck, Dry-curd cottage cheese, Rye Bread Pudding, Rasol, Pelmeni Dumplings, Karbonade
  • Drinks: Kvass, Riga Black Balsam

Lithuania

Vilnius suburbs as seen from above

  • Places: Vilnius Old Town, Trakai Island Castle, Hill of Crosses (Kryžių Kalnas), Curonian Spit (Kuršių Nerija), Kaunas Old Town, Palanga Amber Museum and Botanical Park, Aukštaitija National Park, Rundāle Palace Museum, Pazaislis Monastery, Grutas Park (Stalin World).
  • Food: Cepelinai, Šaltibarščiai, Kugelis, Skilandis, Kibinai, Žemaičių Blynai, Juoda Duona, Midus, Starka, Lithuanian Beer (Baltas Alus, Tamsusis Alus), Krupnikas, Gira.
  • Drinks: Cider, Beer, Gira, Kvass, Midus, Krupnikas

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Poland

  • Places: Krakow Old Town, Gdansk, Bialowieza Forest, Auschwitz, Malbork Castle, Tatra Mountains, Zakopane, Wroclaw, Slowinski National Park, Masurian Lake Distric, Beskids
  • Food: Bigos, Periogi, Ogorki Kwaszone, Żurek, Warog Szczypiorkiem, Śledzie W Śmietanie, Polish Bread
  • Drinks: Beer, Vodka, Żubrówka, Żołądkowa gorzka, Miód pitny

Romania

  • Places: Bran, Babele and the Sphinx, Peleș Castle, Bucharest, Coloana Infinitului by Brâncuși, Berca Mud Volcanoes, Brasov, Transylvania, Constanta
  • Food: Sarmale, Mămăligă, Mici, Ciorbă de burtă, Pomana Porcului, Jumări, Cozonac, Drob de miel, Papanași, Salata De Boeuf
  • Drinks: Tuica, Socata Drink, Traditional Romanian Wine

Serbia

  • Places: Belgrade, Church of St. Sava, House on the Drina, Studenica Monastery, Subotica City Hall, Josip Broz Tito’s Grave, Đerdap Gorge, Skull Tower
  • Food: Ćevapi, Kajmak, Karađorđeva šnicla, Sarma, Musaka, Ajvar, Mladi sir, Pljeskavica
  • Drinks: Rakija, Beer, Wine, Vinjak, Pelinkovac, Kvass

Slovakia

  • Places: Bratislava, Kosice, Dunajec River, Lomnicky Peak, Nitra Castle, Jasná, Piešťany
  • Food: Bryndzové pirohy, Kapustnica, Vepřo knedlo zelo, Gulášová polievka, Vyprážaný syr, Vyprážaný rezeň, Trdelnik, Slovenske palacinky
  • Drinks: Kofola, Vinea, Tatranský čaj, Demänovka, Bentianna, Beer, Wine, Karpatské Brandy, Slivovica

We hope that this travel to Eastern Europe guide has been useful for you. Have a great time in Eastern Europe, and it’s one of the places I would never get tired of visiting and exploring. For questions or suggestions, reach out to us on social media—we’re quite active there!

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